I’m not really someone who’s nuts about supermarkets.
I do appreciate a good price on a good product — so when my neighborhood store is selling Garelick Farms “Over the Moon” low-fat chocolate milk or Heinz ketchup at bargain prices, I will stock up and start sipping.
But marveling over a store’s polished tile floors, mood music and pristine fruit bins — that’s another guy. I don’t go that way.
I was really more curious than anything else regarding the new miracle store, ShopRite, in Niskayuna. Took two trips last week, and there was one truth certain: People in the Capital District love a new supermarket. The joint was mobbed both nights I showed up. Both nights, I might add, past 7 p.m. Thought I could beat the crowds. A false assumption.
And before I go any farther ... and annoy any advertisers ... I shop at just about every supermarket around here during the year. Price Chopper gets plenty of my business, for Coors Light on sale, the aforementioned chocolate milk and ketchup and the gourmet chocolate chip cookies that have subtracted cash and added calories to my personal budget. Greulich’s Market in Guilderland gets me for fresh hamburger during the summer time. Niskayuna’s Co-Op Supermarket is my place for potato, ham and turkey salad. I go to Gabriel’s for Canadian bacon and Hannaford stores for salad-filled croissants during the holidays.
I was kind of amused at the scenes at ShopRite. I’m happy to report it’s a nice, clean place, with a prepared food section that’s sort of upscale. Kind of like Wegmans, the miracle store of Rochester. But you couldn’t really pause for reflection in the aisles and courts, because there was always somebody behind you. It was like the Northway at rush hour, bumper to bumper. Keep moving, Mac.
Bunches of people were shopping for the deal of the day, as Monty Hall used to say. Whole beef tenderloins were selling for $4.88 a pound, narrow loaves of plastic-wrapped meat that averaged between 4 and 7 pounds. I went for the pre-cut version, myself. But bunches of people wanted the wrapped specials, to slice and dice themselves.
One guy stood by the meat cooler and picked up about eight of these tenderloins, squeezing and touching each one, almost cradling the damn things. I couldn’t figure out what he was doing, but I hadn’t seen groping like that since my 1972 junior prom at noble Aquinas Institute. The guys and gals there didn’t know what they were doing, either.
“Find one you like?” I asked, just trying to be helpful. What I felt like saying was, “Hey, man. Get a room!”
The butcher shop couldn’t keep the coolers filled. There were always people milling around the things, awaiting their share from the hunt. I kind of felt like a wolf in a pack of wolves, ready for dinner. Nobody was howling about the great price.
I was semi-amazed and completely annoyed at some people and their shopping cart habits. It was like they were taking a stroll in the park on a Sunday afternoon, stopping to pick up a can of this, a box of that. I know enough to pull over to the side of an aisle if I’m checking prices on Heinz, Hunt’s or Del Monte. But these people had all the time in the world. Groovin’ ... on a Sunday afternoon.
But they were nothing compared to the two women I saw at the frozen vegetable case. They stood in front of the twin double doors, looking up and down the shelves for “sale” vegetables. You’d have thought they were looking over diamond rings. Everything was on sale ... but they were holding out for creamed spinach or pearl onions in butter sauce. Five minutes. They kept me waiting five minutes, and I was “steam fresh” myself by the time they wandered off.
I waited in line for a pound a Black Bear turkey bread, a steal at $5.99 a pound, and shook my head at the people ordering a quarter pound of this, a quarter pound of that. One guy was getting free samples of everything. “See,” I said to myself. “This is what makes for a long line. These fool foodies are turning a deli into a buffet.”
Then the slicer who had taken my order presented me with a thin slice of Black Bear. “You have to try it,” he said, enthusiastically. So I swallowed my pride and a few bites of turkey — the samples were the method of operation.
I gave shoppers with full carts wide berth, and watched for all overloads at the check-outs. I only had a couple sacks of potatoes, some tenderloin, turkey breast and a few bags of vegetables, so I was eligible for an express lane. It still took a while. But there’s nothing I hate more — in any market — to get stuck behind some guy who’s been shopping for the end of the world. They take forever.
So the ShopRite in Niskayuna is off and running. Good luck to them. If their ketchup prices are right, they’ll see me again.